£1bn contract for UK nuclear submarines to be announced


Philip Hammond on the BBC's Sunday Politics

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A £1bn contract for reactors for the next generation of the UK's nuclear-armed submarines is to be announced.

The deal is part of plans to replace the Vanguard fleet, which carries the Trident nuclear deterrent.

The work will be carried out at the Rolls-Royce factory at Raynesway, Derby, securing 300 jobs.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the government was "committed to maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent".

But he said the final decision on replacing Trident would not be made until 2016.

Cause strains

The Ministry of Defence has already set aside £3bn to begin work on the new submarines to replace the Royal Navy's four Vanguard class boats.

The additional money will go towards refurbishing the Rolls-Royce facility and developing the reactors.

It will fund two reactors, one for the seventh Astute Class attack submarine and one for the first of the new nuclear deterrent submarines.

The Conservatives want to replace the UK's existing Trident submarines by 2028 but the Lib Dems are against a direct swap.

Nick Harvey, a Lib Dem defence minister in the coalition, has been looking at the possibility of cheaper alternatives.

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said the decision to push ahead with the project was likely to cause strains in the coalition.

Start Quote

The decision on whether to build them won't be taken until 2016 - what we're doing now is ordering the things we have to order now to give us that option”

End Quote Philip Hammond Defence Secretary

The final decision on replacing Trident will not be taken until after the next general election, although billions of pounds will already have been spent on its successor by then.

Last month, the MoD awarded £350m of contracts for the next generation of submarines to BAE Systems, Babcock and Rolls-Royce.

'Sovereign capability'

Mr Hammond will make the latest announcement on Monday.

In an interview on the BBC's Sunday Politics show, he said: "What we're going to be announcing is a commitment to the major refurbishment of the plant at Rolls Royce in Derby which builds these core reactors, not just for the nuclear deterrent submarines but also for our attack submarines, the Astute Class submarines.

"This is sustaining a sovereign capability in the UK and some very high-end technical skills in the UK for the next 40 or 50 years.

"The government's policy is very clear - we're committed to maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent and we're placing orders now... for the long-lead items that will be necessary to deliver a successor to the Vanguard Class submarines in the late 2020s.

"But the decision on whether to build them won't be taken until 2016 - what we're doing now is ordering the things we have to order now to give us that option."

Sir Menzies Campbell, former Lib Dem leader, described the plans as "sensible".

'An obscenity'

He told the BBC: "The position of the Liberal Democrats before the last general election was that the cost of a like-for-like replacement of Trident was so great that it was necessary to examine alternatives...

"That [review] is not affected by this announcement and even if there was no Trident submarine programme we would still have had to upgrade these facilities [at Derby] in order to ensure that the reactor cores for the Astute Class... were being properly constructed and in a safe environment."

Britain's nuclear weapons system is made up of four submarines, based at the Faslane naval base on the Clyde, which can deploy Trident ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads.

In March, Scottish National Party conference delegates passed a motion committing the party to the removal of the nuclear weapons system under an independent Scotland.

When asked about potential job losses if a Trident replacement project did not go ahead, Bruce Crawford, the Scottish government's strategy secretary, told the BBC: "This isn't about jobs it's about the obscenity of spending £100bn on a weapons system that's no longer required, that's not an economic proposition and is morally unjustified."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 377.

    Quote " / 359. John
    I live on the Clyde were these are based this area is an unemployment black spot has been since the closure of most of the ship yards, these being based here and building new ones isn't going to bring jobs to this area or even this country (Scotland) / " end Quote

    Why would the UK Government commit to providing Jobs in Scotland at all? Your leaving the Union (PS I am a Scot)

  • rate this

    Comment number 376.

    301.Jim M
    If you think 1bil will do anything to the trillions of $'s of debt floating around the Earth you are seriously uneducated. The economic collapse is unavoidable, only a complete imbecile would believe that the € can be rescued. I would say the probability of seeing the $ collapse in the coming ten years is 70%. We can hope there will not be war, but hope doesn't stop a nuke!

  • rate this

    Comment number 375.

    If you think that having a nuclear deterrent will stop the obvious problem of small scale terrorist attacks then you haven't thought it through. America will be drawn into any future conflict and they have enough weapons to incinerate most of humanity, Just stop all this sabre rattling-it impresses no-one today and makes no sense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.


    That will be the oil we were told would run out in 25 years....told about 30 years ago. Still plenty of offshore areas to exploit.

    As for defence jobs we've already lost 10,000 over the past 10 years under Westminster?

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    Anything that has the word nuclear init whether it be a submarine or energy producing has to be a huge mistake for this planet! We have seen the effects in japan with nuclear disasters and the fall out from atomic bombs! Humanity cannot survive any event mass scale! The planet as a whole surely has to open its eyes and see this for what it is! Any defence is no defence against nuclear power!

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    The Clde bed is dense mud, easy to dredge and suitable for maintaining a deep channel.
    The Thames is sand, much harder to keep clear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    The establishment war machine continues to trundle. Imagine what £1billion would buy in terms of education and training for BRITISH citizens? But thats not what the tories and their Westminster Club chums want. We'd become too educated. We might just chuck the whole shower of them out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 370.

    Quick lick of paint on the old ones and save some cash.

    Lets face it no one will know the difference.

  • rate this

    Comment number 369.

    The existence of nuclear weapons is an utter tragedy and, as long as the UK is maintaining & renewing them, we are in no position to lecture anyone else. Also, given the current financial crisis, spending this money on this is obscene. £1bn for 300 jobs works out at £3.3 million per job. That money could be more effectively spent on infrastructure projects than for a system we will never use!

  • rate this

    Comment number 368.

    The current trident program has cost on average £2bn a year to maintain. This equates to £28 per UK citizen per year.
    Nuclear attack = end of life in the uk.

    My home insurance costs me about £200 a year.
    Burnt down home = family helping and having to rent.

    Perhaps this demonstrates better value for money in our nuclear detterrant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 367.

    363.Entropic man

    The Clyde in its busy shipbuilding days had to be dredged regularly that was the only way great ships like the QE2 could be built in places like Clydebank check out British shipbuilding history.

  • rate this

    Comment number 366.

    New nuke sub reactors cost Scot taxpayer £84m. Jobs in Scotland building them:zero. Cost per job created £3.3m

  • rate this

    Comment number 365.

    Etonian nit wits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 364.

    The problem is you cannot become non nuclear unless everyone provably does it at the same time. And suppose they did (ha ha). Then do we suggest, right, everyone has to become non-tank? Then non destroyer. Then non fighter-bombers? I'll get my psychiatrist to arrange it. For goodness sake wake up. We live in a world with plenty of would-be enemies, and it will be like that for a very long time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    #359 John
    " why not base them in the Thames"

    We used to base much of our fleet in the Thames Estuary. Go visit Chatham Dockyard sometime.
    Unfortunately most of a submarine is below the waterline and the Thames Estuary is too shallow for them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    351.Frank W "I work in engineering and deal with lots of brilliant engineering companies who do not make weapons of mass destruction. They are successful"

    At £3.3 million a job I'd be surprised if they weren't. It's like Harry Enfield's Loadsamoney in white coats.

  • Comment number 361.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    The initial funding for this project is to allow for the amazingly long lead times to develop the technology needed to give the government, whoever it is, the option for replacement in 2016. There has been £3 Billion already put aside by the MOD budget and now we will be committing another £1 Billion. I'm just concerned that a proportion of this money will be wasted if the decision in 2016 is no

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    I live on the Clyde were these are based this area is an unemployment black spot has been since the closure of most of the ship yards, these being based here and building new ones isn't going to bring jobs to this area or even this country (Scotland) Here's an idea why not base them in the Thames see how supportive everyone is of them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 358.

    We'd be better off without nuclear weapons. The whole world would be better off without any weapons.

    The genie will not go back inside the bottle. One day there will be a nuclear war.


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